ARLINGTON, Texas -- It's a cheap joke, and totally unfair, to say that Dirk Nowitzki was the Rangers' best pitcher of the night.
Sorry. I'm saying it, anyway.
Nowitzki, the Dallas Mavericks star, became something of a story earlier in the week when baseball first said he wouldn't be chosen to throw out a ceremonial first pitch. The Rangers insisted, Bud Selig got involved, and Nowitzki was handed the honor for Game 3.
Now we know why.
Not because he was good luck for the Rangers (quite obviously, he wasn't). Not because he could have retired Albert Pujols (on Saturday's evidence, no one could have).
No, simply because he looked good -- and entertaining -- while throwing the first pitch to Michael Young.
"Dirk had great rhythm with his pitch," Rangers starter C.J. Wilson said. "He was throwing downhill. He was kind of Ogando-ish."
Wilson meant Ogando-ish, as in the way Alexi Ogando has thrown all season and for most of the playoffs. Not Ogando-ish, as in giving up four runs and a Pujols home run that caromed off the facing of the second deck.
Anyway, the point is that Nowitzki made the most of the chance. He even did "the claw," which the Rangers players use to signify a big play.
He also took some advice from the Rangers players.
Or tried to, anyway.
"My last [first pitch] in July was a little high," Nowitzki said. "This time they told me to throw a four-seam fastball. I still don't understand what that means. But I think that's the grip I had. Or was it a two-seam fastball? No, I forgot."
Either way, Wilson was impressed.
"His hand's so big, it's like me throwing a golf ball," Wilson said.
However he did it, he did it well.
And yes, he did it better than any of the Rangers pitchers who followed.